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Why Your Mood Changes with the Seasons and How to Cope

Fall has arrived and Daylight Savings is wrapping up on November 7th, which means less daylight, cooler nights, and more time indoors. Have you ever noticed your mood changing with the seasons? If so, you’re not alone.  

The Science Behind Your Seasonal Mood Changes 

Scientists think it’s possible that when the seasons change, so do our dopamine and serotonin levels. Dopamine plays an integral role in how we feel pleasure. It helps us focus and find interest in things. Serotonin contributes to our overall feelings of well-being and happiness. It’s been suggested that when we’re exposed to less UV light, these important chemicals can fluctuate in our bodies. Not to mention a change in weather, and a literal change in time, can mess with our sleep cycles, affecting our biological clocks and disrupting our daily routines.  

Now that we’re deep into fall -- and, yep, believe it or not, winter is riiiight around the corner-- it’s important to take time to reflect and focus on your mood. Noticing a pattern in your feelings day-to-day can help you cultivate mood-boosting, self-care practices to combat some of those seasonal blues you may be experiencing.  

Here are 5 tips to help you be mindful of your mood and combat some of those negative feelings: 

  1. Reflect on Your Feelings: Keep a Mood Journal

    Daily journaling helps you reflect and keep track of your day-to-day mood changes, helping you recognize emotional triggers (such as bad weather, talking to a person who gets under your skin, or visiting a place that brings back bad memories). Doing this helps you identify your emotional pain points, which is the first step in exploring and learning about healthy coping mechanisms to combat those feelings. If you’re feeling anxious or overwhelmed about starting a mood journal, take it one step at a time. If your mind goes blank when you sit down to journal, and you don’t know where to start, there are many mood journals that provide specific prompts to help you get started. Some even provide charts to help you easily monitor your sleep patterns, plan your meals, practice gratitude, and outline your daily routine.

  2. Declutter Your Space, Declutter Your Mind: Clean and Decorate Your Space to Give Your Mood a Boost

    Studies have shown that people who describe their homes as messy, cluttered, or unfinished also felt more tired, stressed, and depressed than those who described their homes as clean, organized, and curated. It’s so important to make sure that you love the space you come home to everyday; whether you rent a room, own a house, live in a converted van, or anything in-between. Make your space feel like your own.

    Try finding some inspiration pictures on PinterestInstagram, or TikTok. Create a fun  mood board using free digital tools like CanvaMilanote, or just do it the old-fashioned  way by printing out pictures and gluing them to a poster board. Then, start organizing  or decorating your room in a way that makes you peaceful and comfortable. But, don’t  forget, you’ll also have to set aside time to regularly clean up and de-clutter your space  so you can continue to feel relaxed in there. And, yep, you guessed it, if you have trouble getting started with cleaning and organizing there are hundreds of apps and books available to help you get started.

  3. Invest in Yourself: Purchase Products that Make You Feel Good

    If you have the means to do so, try investing in some tools that help you feel good. And, no, we’re not saying to go on a shopping spree and buy yourself a whole new wardrobe for that instant Dopamine rush. What we mean is, invest in wellness products. One tool we recommend is a sun lamp. As the darker, colder winter months take over and you begin to feel down, using a sun lamp to deliver a natural UV light (essentially emulating real sunlight) has been shown to positively impact your body’s regulation of hormones like melatonin, which helps regulate your body’s natural sleep-wake cycle, and serotonin, which helps regulate your mood.

    Another great tool to invest in would be a massage tool. Your body and mind are partners. In other words, if your body isn’t being taken care of, your mind will feel the effects of that too. If you work long days on your feet, hunched over a desk, or if your body just feels ache-y at the end of the day, give the NFORCE massage gun a try. Massage guns are beneficial for a number of reasons including improved muscle plasticity, reduced inflammation, and promotion of blood circulation throughout the body. Using a massage tool like NFORCE helps your body feel at ease, which will ease your mind as well.

  4. You Are What You Eat: Start Meal Prepping

    As you continue to integrate your daily routine with healthy habits, another great habit to add to your list is meal prepping. Aside from saving time, meal-prepping helps you lower stress levels by not having to figure out what to make for dinner night after night. Additionally, it’ll help you feel more confident in the kitchen and inspire you to try out new meals, creating an overall better relationship with food. As you meal prep, you’ll learn more about nutrition and what foods make you feel good. Try our Vegan Tomato Potato Soup recipe if you’re looking for a fall-favorite!

  5. Switch Up Your Surroundings: New Experiences = Positive Feelings

    While creating and sticking to a daily routine has been proven to boost your mood and benefit your overall mental health, it’s also important to change things up once in a while. That can mean buying a new piece of furniture, trying out a new restaurant, or going on a trip to a new city, state, or even country. Try new things and change up your surroundings! In fact, TIME Magazine interviewed Psychologist Rich Walker, who looked at countless event memories; “people who engage in a variety of experiences are more likely to retain positive emotions and minimize negative ones than people who have fewer experiences,” Walker said. Think of ways you can subtly (or not-so-subtly) change up your routine to keep things positive, interesting, and fun! 

It’s Time to Get Started! 

Don’t let this list overwhelm you. Start with one or two tips to begin with and give those  a try for a few weeks, then slowly try to incorporate new tips into your life. Once you start implementing a few of these helpful habits into your daily routine, you may find it easier to deal with the sudden mood changes that come with the changing seasons. Remember: go easy on yourself and take things one day at a time.